A Wicked Welcome to Author Marian Lanouette

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, racing through the summer at a breakneck pace without actually meaning to…

Today I’m bringing you a special guest, my friend Marian Lanouette, whom I’ve known since just after I started writing seriously. ALL THE HIDDEN SINS, her latest police procedural–which is definitely NOT cozy, LOL!–releases next Tuesday. I asked Marian a few questions so you could all get to know her better.

Tell us a little about yourself and your series.

Good morning Jane, and Wicked Cozy Authors and readers. I’m thrilled to be visiting you today. I’m Marian Lanouette, author of the Jake Carrington Thriller/Mystery series and an avid reader of all things mystery, thriller and suspense. I grew up reading the NY Daily News and from an early age was mesmerized by the murder stories in the paper. They read like serial books. Each day, I’d grab my father’s copy of the newspaper to see if there were new clues the police uncovered and/or if they had caught the killer.  When the police didn’t catch a killer, it set my imagination in motion. What if I solved the crime for the cops? Wouldn’t that be amazing for a ten-year-old to accomplish? Yes, it was a fanciful idea but it kept my mind occupied. After a while I started to write out my thoughts. I love puzzles and seeing my analysis on paper brought the cases and clues into focus. I’ve been writing ever since.

Do you have any unusual talents or skills?

I don’t know if they’re unusual, but I liked to snowboard, rollerblade, and wakeboard and participated in these activities until my open heart surgery in 2009. Now I’m a bit more careful in my adventures. I also love to knit, read, and lunch with friends and colleagues.

Tell us a little about your series.

Thanks for asking, Jane. Lieutenant Jake Carrington along with his partner/friend Sergeant Louie Romanelli are cops in a mid-size city in Connecticut. Jake is a single man while Louie is married with three kids. Besides having my characters solve crimes, I like to explore how the job interferes with the personal side of their lives.  Jake’s motivation for turning down a sports career in college was the murder of his sister while he was in his teens. After his family buried Eva, Jake vowed to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a cop. He believes to his core that giving the victims justice is what matters, no matter whose feet he stomps on.

Was there a real-life inspiration for your fictional homicide detective, Jake Carrington? If not, how did you create him?

No, Jake slammed into my head fully developed one day when I was working on another story. He kept shouting in my head until I put down my work in progress and put him on paper. The first book ran through my mind as if a movie was playing. I’m acquainted with some police officers and love listening to their stories of suspects and events. Their views are colorful and a bit tainted. Cops see life differently than you and I do—how can they help it when they deal with the dregs of morally corrupt human society and desperate people every day they go to work?

Other than Jake, who’s your favorite fictional detective and why?

I love Lieutenant Eve Dallas in the In Death series by J.D. Robb. I also like Will Trent in Karin Slaughter’s series set in Atlanta, GA; and J.T. Ellison’s series with Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her one with Dr. Samantha Owens; and Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher. I could go on and on. Before I was published I was reading eight books a week. Now,with my deadlines, I’m lucky if I get through one.

This series took an unusual publication path. Tell us about that.

It was unusual. When I finished the first two books I submitted to a small press and received a contract for them. After two years I wasn’t happy with the results and took back my rights and self-published the series. And I had some success going that way. At a function I met my now-editor from Kensington and asked if she’d be interested in reading the series. She was, and did, and offered me a four-book deal, including those first two books which received new titles and some revisions.  It’s been working out great. I feel I’ve learned something important at each stage of the game. And I hope it makes me a better writer.

You write in other genres as well. Tell us about those stories. Is it hard to switch back and forth?

I write thrillers, mysteries, romantic suspense, and under a pseudonym romance novels. It’s easy for me to switch. It’s a mindset. I work off of a to-do list which I make up each night. When I wake up the next morning, I know what and where my mind/imagination should be and get to it.

What’s next for Jake?

On the 31st of this month ALL THE HIDDEN SINS releases. I’m excited about this book, because I used my career working at a cemetery/crematorium to invent sinister characters and weird possibilities. (Jane, butting in here–I read this story and you will never think about a crematorium the same way!) I love how it turned out. I’ve also turned in ALL THE PRETTY BRIDES which releases in December. And I’m now working the edits on book four, ALL THE DIRTY SECRETS, for a May 2019 release.  I’m also playing with plots for future books in series.  Jake keeps dominating my thoughts over other characters so for now he gets all the attention.

Here’s the book blurb for ALL THE HIDDEN SINS, A JAKE CARRINGTON THRILLER:

When it comes to crime, homicide detective Jake Carrington plays for high stakes . . .
 
Assigned a missing persons case, Lieutenant Jake Carrington investigates a local Mob boss. The trail goes cold, but the Mafioso isn’t taking any chances, and soon the heat turns up from another quarter. Turns out there’s more than one dangerous suspect . . .
 
Kyra Russell is drop-dead gorgeous and Jake is only human. But despite their mutual attraction, Jake’s suspicion deepens when he learns about her gambling problem—an addiction that cost her both husband and son. Even more disturbing is Kyra’s day job. She runs a crematorium—and it’s tied to the Mob. Now Jake will have to navigate a firestorm of treachery to get to the truth . . .
 
Previously published as Burn in Hell.

https://www.facebook.com/marian.lanouette

https://twitter.com/AuthorMarian

https://www.marianl.com

Thanks for visiting! Readers, any questions for Marian?

Summer Pages

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, wishing she was on vacation . . . 

Greetings, Wicked People. I hope everyone is enjoying this first full week of summer. There were so many snow days in Connecticut this past winter that the kids in my town don’t get out until today. And that brings me back to memories of my own childhood. It probably won’t be a surprise to any of you that one of my favorite summer vacation activities was–wait for it–reading.

Recently I’ve been reading (usually via audiobooks) a number of popular books that are often called domestic thrillers. You know the ones, that are selling a squillion copies, like Gone Girl. Unreliable narrator (generally a woman, often with a prescription medication and/or alcohol problem) who may or may not have actually seen or done what she thinks she did. Lots of surprises, twists and turns–but not small ones. Big ones. In general I’m enjoying these books, but I have to say that my professional goggles frequently make the secrets that get revealed fairly obvious.

Sometimes I long for the days when I read just for the joy of reading, without feeling the compulsion to guess or analyze or predict what’s coming next. And that makes me think of the books I loved when I was in elementary school, the books I read over and over. Here’s a sample:

A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. So, whether from nostalgia, or because I haven’t seen the movie yet but intend to, I recently reread this book. Despite having read it at least 5 times as a kid, I have to say I didn’t remember a word of it! So it turned out to be a brand-new experience for me. Verdict: This is a highly spiritual, allegorical work, with some rather stilted language, and now, viewed through those professional goggles I mentioned above, I didn’t quite connect with it the way I did all those years ago. There are several more related books (I’m not sure they’re exactly sequels), and I don’t recall if I read those. I think not, and I probably won’t now. I’ll just try to remember my former love for the book and leave it at that. I still may see the movie, because, ya know, Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Chris Pine.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I adored it then, and adore it now. I remember being fascinated by those round hobbit doors, second breakfasts (a brilliant concept that really ought to catch on), and hairy-footed short people going on a quest with some dwarves. I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy a couple of times, and I’ve seen the movies, which were unnecessarily extended, but The Hobbit is still the book that does it for me. Time for a reread on this one.

Strange But True, by David Duncan. I must have checked this one out of the library 800 times. In fact, a group of my friends and I just pretty much took turns checking it out in perpetuity, so no one else got to read it. I recall serious discussions about the stories in this book. Credible sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. Feral children raised by wolves. And one that still sticks with me today: the farmer who walked across his field one morning and simply vanished, while his wife was watching. Hey, it could happen. I think I need to find this book (and I seem to recall there was a second volume with another set of terrifying tales).

Chariots of the Gods, by Erich von Daniken. . What can I say? I believed in aliens.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond,by Elizabeth George Speare. I saved my all-time favorite for last. To say I adored this book is not doing my feelings justice. Set in colonial Connecticut against the backdrop of the Connecticut witch trials, this is the story of Kit Tyler, born and raised in Barbados, who comes to live with her horrible Puritan relatives in Wethersfield. She befriends a Quaker woman who is accused of witchcraft–then Kit gets accused of it herself! In the end, she sails off for the tropics with the very dreamy Nat Eaton. I still get all swoony when I think about him. Seriously, if you guys haven’t read this one, do. It’ll only take a few hours. And as a side note, I never thought while I was reading this book back then that I would end up living only twenty miles from the actual Wethersfield. And now, since I did a little research for this blog post, I have just discovered that a house from the story is now a museum! I’ll be visiting that soon.

What were your favorites? Have you reread them lately? Has your opinion about them changed? I’d love to know.

Those Crazy National Days

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, looking forward to two fun weekends in a row–Memorial Day with family, and a writing retreat next weekend with seven friends, where at least eight new books will be plotted…

These National (fill in the blank) Days are fun, aren’t they? I’m not sure who comes up with these things, but I am proposing National Cozy Mystery Day! Until that’s a thing, here’s what’s what for today, May 24, according to National Day Calendar:

National Brother’s Day: Okay, I’ve got one brother, and today’s as good a day as any to tell him he’s still a pain in the butt. Rob, Happy Brother’s Day!

National Wyoming Day: I’ve never been, but I’d like to go someday. It looks like a beautiful, wide-open place. Have you been?

National Scavenger Hunt Day: Well, what’s more fun than that? OK, everyone, staying within the confines of your house, find the following: a book by one of the Wickeds; a coin that is somewhere it shouldn’t be; and something in your fridge that you forgot you had. Post your results in the comments, if you’re so inclined.

National Escargot Day: I LOVE escargot, properly prepared (which is to say, “prepared by someone else”) with lots of garlic and wine. Do you love it, hate it, or would never try it in a squillion years? Super bonus points if you have some in your fridge you forgot about (see National Scavenger Hunt Day, above).

And finally, Red Nose Day. I am NOT buying one of those silly clown noses, but I do appreciate the cause of reducing child poverty. So I’ll send a few bucks here. You know that spare coin you found on the scavenger hunt? Why not send it and a couple of its brothers to the cause of your choice today?

So, Wicked People, I’m kind of serious about proposing National Cozy Mystery Day. What day do you think it should be? Agatha Christie’s birthday (September 15)? The day the first episode of Murder, She Wrote aired (September 30)? Any other ideas?

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

Three Truths and a Lie

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, wishing she was with all the cool kids at Malice…

First off, let me wish everyone who is at Malice a lovely time! And fingers crossed for our own Wicked Agatha nominees, Jessie and Edith.

So, I admit I’m bumming that I’m not at Malice this year. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a new day job (which I love!), and I don’t have much vacation time, which limits the amount of conferencing I can do.

But when I do get to go, one of my favorite things to do at conferences is … to hang out at the bar! Not because I am much of a drinker–although I do like a glass of wine now and then–but because that’s where people tend to congregate and either catch up with old friends, or make new ones. And I DO love to chat! So for those of us who are left at home, I thought it would be fun today to play a get-to-know-us game.

Three of the statements below are true. One is a lie. Can you guess the fib?

  1. My favorite book boyfriend is Rhett Butler.
  2. I once physically experienced a ghostly presence . . . in a churchI
  3. I have a phobia about mice and rats.
  4. I have spent time in the former country of Yugoslavia, when it was under communist rule.

So take your best guess which is the lie, and I’ll reveal the truth sometime this afternoon. After you guess, tell us an interesting fact about yourself. Only you need to know if it’s true or not!

Spring Cleaning

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, waiting on that first crocus…

(Reason being, in our family, whoever sees the first crocus gets to choose which ice cream place to go to–and if I win this year, I’m picking the local farm where the cream comes from their own cows and they make the ice cream on site)

Confession time: When it gets close to crocus time, I always start to feel a little guilty. You see, I don’t spring clean, but I feel like I should. I have a high tolerance for clutter and cleaning is not a big priority for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be featured on and episode of Hoarders–at least I hope not–but I’ve got a lot going on, ya know? In my defense, I keep the dishes done six days out of seven, I usually keep up on the laundry, the trash and recycling get taken out weekly, and I wipe up the bathroom once a week too. Other things, like picking up, dusting, mopping, and vacuuming, get done when I have time. Or when I can’t stand it anymore. Or when I’m procrastinating doing something else I really don’t want to be doing.

Some people have the clean gene. I don’t.

But the thing is, I do feel physically and mentally better when I have order around me–not to mention I am more creative and I just generally get more done when I don’t have dust and out-of-place objects sucking up my energy. So, not because it’s spring, mind you, but because I have a new writing project I want to make progress on I’ve committed to start spiffing up my environment, one area at a time, starting with my desk. My hope is that this process will get the words flowing. It’s worked before. It’ll work again–it must!

Are you a Messie or a Neatnik? Any tips for staying on top of household chores? 

 

 

Once Upon A Time

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, making a last-minute switch on the post she was planning to write…

I had something else in mind to write about for today’s post, but having just come back from an event, I changed my mind. These days it takes a lot to really impress my jaded heart, but I’m happy to report I’ve found something!

You’ve all heard us show and tell how writers support one another (and truly, there is no other business I know of where competitors regularly assist each other to make their products better–and have loads of fun doing it). One of the ways we do this is by attending each other’s events if we are able. Because it can be a bit of a crapshoot whether readers will show up or not–I’ve had events where 60 people attended, and an event where a single, solitary soul came to see me–if I can go and make sure a friend will have at least one familiar face, I will do it.

So last night I went to an author reading at a place I have been hearing and seeing so much about: The Storyteller’s Cottage in Simsbury, Connecticut. Just the Victorian exterior was enough to make me long to see the inside.

And when I did? The place FAR exceeded my expectations. The interior is stunning, with gorgeous period décor and glorious original woodwork. But it’s the activities available that really got that aforementioned heart of mine racing. In addition to a number of writing classes and children’s programming, writers can rent out rooms, or even a whole floor, by the hour. I was practically salivating, thinking about grabbing a few writer friends and writing in the Jane Austen or Jules Verne Steampunk room for a few hours some Sunday afternoon. But wait, there’s more!

There are also two mystery escape rooms, with a third one being fitted out–and one of them is based on Agatha Christie. Honestly, it was all I could do not to ditch the readings downstairs and insist that the owner lock me in immediately. But delayed satisfaction is good for the character, right? So yet another reason to return.

The owner has thought of everything, including book groups like The Great British Baking Club, where participants read culinary mysteries and then bake in the gorgeous kitchen–um, where do I sign up?

So, in case you weren’t sure, I am highly recommending a trip to the Storyteller’s Cottage. Let me know if you go!

Do you know of any businesses that think outside the box in such an impressive way? Have you ever done a mystery escape room–and lived to tell about it?

G is for . . . Goodbye

From Jane/Sadie/Susannah, who is heading off on retreat in Vermont tomorrow and can’t wait …

Hey, Wicked People. Don’t let the title of this post surprise (or, dare I say, concern) you. I’m not going anywhere, except on the aforementioned retreat. But the mystery world got some sad news last month: the death of beloved mystery author Sue Grafton. That’s the goodbye I’m talking about.

While I never met her in person (I was not at the Crime Bake she attended, and it’s probably just as well because I would have fangirled all over her and embarrassed everyone), I have been deeply influenced by her work. Yes, I have read every single one of her novels, in order. She, along with Diane Mott Davidson, Janet Evanovich, and Rett MacPherson, are the modern authors who inspired me to write a mystery. Not only did these writers get me started toward living my own dream of authorship, they’ve given me countless hours of reading pleasure. How many people you’ve never met can you truthfully say changed your life? And when my first Sadie novel came out (Yarned and Dangerous), it was shelved right next to Sue Grafton’s book X at my Barnes and Noble. I actually cried. I sometimes still tear up when I think about it.

When I heard about her death, my first, very selfish thought, was But What About Z???? Which was followed almost immediately by guilt at my self-centeredness and then empathy for her family. I too have lost more family members than I care to count to lingering illnesses, so believe me, I understand something of what they went through. It didn’t take me long to realize that the family is absolutely right to carry out Sue’s wishes that the alphabet –and the series–now ends at Y. (Although, again, selfishly, I really hoped that she had finished that last manuscript and that it would be released).

Before I got there, though, I did the But Surely exercise. But surely she left notes! But surely she told someone what was going to happen to Kinsey! But surely somebody could finish that novel…

And then, I thought back to another author who left an unfinished manuscript: Elizabeth Peters (a/k/a Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz) . She died while The Painted Queen was in process and it was finished by her friend Joan Hess (who also recently passed). And while Joan, who is a legend in her own right, did a really good job, it just wasn’t the same. And it couldn’t be the same, not ever, because there was only one Elizabeth Peters. Just like there was only one Joan Hess. And one Sue Grafton. And one you, dear reader. So I’m just going to be grateful for what these authors gave me, and stop gluttonously wishing for more.

And now I get the joy of imagining my own ending to the series. I’m certain I know which guy she ended up with (it’s been fairly obvious to me for quite  few books where that was going). I’m less certain, but suspicious, about the fate of Henry, Kinsey’s nonagenarian landlord, and her cousin Anna’s onboard passenger, and whether Kinsey will break down and get some 1990-vintage electronics.

If you haven’t read the series, who are the authors whose work you miss dreadfully? If you have, any predictions about what happened to Kinsey after the events of Y is for Yesterday?